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Re-purposing/Customizing

Chair leg casters to bun feet

We call it re-purposing or customizing when we take something and change it to a different look or function. The following pictures, for instance, show how we changed four chairs over from casters to solid wooden leg tips, also called bun feet.

Top left is the original chair with casters, top right is the chair with the new bun feet glued on. First, we had to cut the leg above the brass trim (top left). Then after finding a bun foot (made by others) with wood grain (maple) that matched the original as well as possible and was in a shape that pleased the client, we cut the top inch off of the new foot, drilled holes in both chair leg and top of the new feet, colored and lacquered the feet to match the legs, then glued the feet and legs together with a metal dowel added for extra strength. NOT as easy as it looks.

The new feet had to be angled to match the existing leg and leveled to sit square on the floor, where the weight would be centered. Notice the bottom left picture, where the back legs are curved and angled oddly (see, the back left is not parallel to the front right leg - normal for this type of chair). It was difficult to match the angles of all four and clamp in a straight line, but with consummate skill (of course!) we managed to align all four feet on all four chairs. You have to really want this done though because it was about $130.00 or so per chair, if I remember right.

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customing chair leg tips
small table drawer removed shortened

Small Cherry Table

The above picture shows a cherry table that used to have the drawer section (on the left of the picture) between the table top and the top of the harp. It was too top heavy and too tall, so the client wanted the drawer section removed. We pulled the top and drawer section off, then removed the drawer section from the top, and re-glued the top to the harp. Then we refinished the table (the drawer section shows the original finish).

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Maple Bed Frame Into Bench

This project took a while to develop because we went through several designs trying for the best use of the wood and the most comfortable. First, the pieces. Top left is the headboard, footboard, and side rails. After a while of thinking (like I said, I don't charge for head-scratching time, so sometimes it can take a while) it ended up like the picture at the top right.

The headboard is the back of the bench, the footboard was cut in half and served as the ends, and the side rails were cut to length (one had to be spliced together) for the seat. Part of the difficulty was getting the angle of the back correct, part was making sure that a 2" cushion would fit and not make the seat too high, and part was fastening the ends to the head board.

I wanted the bench to be comfortable and not tend to fall backwards, so the headboard had to be as far forward as possible without cutting into the seat depth. Other than being sort of heavy (all that maple in one bench is not light at all) it is surprisingly comfortable. Once the client gets the seat cushion made it should be a very nice addition to her home.

All the pieces were used except for one small board from a side rail. The client decided not to refinish it at this time so we just touched up the scratches so they were not visually intrusive. We could've added a trim board to the front edge of the seat but we had to watch the budget and that can always be added later. Another option was to add a drawer under the seat but that would've really blown the budget so we opted not to do it.

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maple bed to bench
cherry dresser to credenza

Cherry Dresser to Credenza or Room Divider

The same client who wanted a cherry table modified also wanted a dresser shortened and a new back glued on which would be made out of the leftover pieces from the dresser and the vanity (below).

Top left is the front before picture, and top right is the front after removing the top two drawers. We cut the top two drawers off just above the horizontal piece on top of the second drawer (from the bottom) and re-glued the top pieces back on. The right picture is also after refinishing with a pigmented cherry oil stain and several coats of satin lacquer. Bottom left shows the original back of the dresser, which was just a 1/4 inch piece of plywood. On the right is a picture of the new back.

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Cherry Dresser to Credenza New Back

We were very pleased with the way the back of the cherry credenza turned out so we thought we'd show some more pictures of it. It was pieced together from the sides of the dresser (large pieces on each side of the two drawers we removed), four pieces from the vanity sides (below) in the corners, and two pieces cut from the middle part of the vanity top (below) in the middle. Two extra braces were cut from a long piece on the back of the vanity and glued under the back at the horizontal seams. This type of customizing is not very usual though because of the expense. The back by itself cost somewhere around $455.00 or so. But, if a person is willing, the results can be spectacular. Now, this dresser has been converted into a credenza that can be used as a partial room divider as well.

Look closely at the top back edge (top left) and you can tell we mitered the pieces forming the top edge. This was so side grain would be on top but not show on the back. The bottom two pictures show closer pictures of each corner. The corner boards (of the new back) were pushed out (towards the left and right side of the credenza) so that the ear would be one piece with the corner board. We didn't want to cut a separate block for the ear and making another vertical seam or risk someone knocking the ear piece off. Now we know what it's like to make jigsaw puzzles!

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cherry dresser back
cherry vanity to end tables

Cherry Vanity Re-Purposed to End Tables

Another project was to convert a vanity into a couple of end tables or nightstands. Top two pictures are the vanity before the operation, and bottom is the end tables after refinishing with a pigmented cherry oil stain and lacquer. First, the top pieces were removed, then the ends were separated and the top series of drawers were removed. Next the top had to be cut into three sections, and the inside top corners had to be shaped to match the outside corners.

The frame piece under the top had a quarter-round groove on the outside edge which also had to be matched on the inside edge, after boards were added on each side to cover the gap. The approximate cost for this project was in the $600.00 range by the time the end tables were refinished. It doesn't sound very hard, but we assure you it was quite a bit of work!

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